For the second time in two months the BBC and Community Care have collaborated to establish the extent of funding cuts to mental health services in England. Freedom of Information requests were sent to 51 NHS trusts, of whom 43 responded. Summaries of this investigation, and headline findings, can be found on the BBC website here and on the Community Care website here. Community Care says:
Data returned by over two-thirds of the mental health trusts, obtained in two separate Freedom of Information requests, showed that:
- Overall trust budgets for 2013/14 had shrunk by 2.3% in real terms from 2011/12. Ten out of 13 trusts that provided forecast budgets for 2014/15 are projecting further cuts next year.
- Budgets for ‘crisis resolution teams’ fell 1.7% in real terms compared to 2011/12 while the average monthly referrals to these teams rose 16%. The teams provide intensive home treatment in a bid to prevent acutely unwell people being hospitalised.
- Budgets for community mental health teams flatlined in real terms but referrals rose 13.3%. These services provide ongoing support in a bid to prevent people’s mental health deteriorating to crisis point.
Community Care also lists 10 ways this underfunding is damaging care.
This is also the month that a special, free-to-download, ‘impact of austerity’ edition of Mental Health Nursing journal has appeared. In an email forwarded to all members of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK by Steve Hemingway (who is both an MHNA member and a member of the MHN editorial board), Dave Munday at Unite the Union (which publishes the journal) says:
This month the Mental Health Nursing journal is focused on austerity and mental health. I hope you’ll agree with me that this is a vitally important topic that not only every mental health nurse should know about, but every citizen. We hope that the journal will help to trigger some thoughts and debates that you can have locally in your workplaces but also outside of work. To this end we’re making the journal free to access even if you’re not a MHNA member or MHN subscriber.